Drake beats sampling lawsuit with “Fair Use” argument
Utilising sampling for songs adds a certain nostalgia and flare.
In modern music hearing samples is a common feature.
Within using samples there is a whole other side to the coin; that of the copyright holder i.e. the producer of said sample.
Recently rapper Drake won a lawsuit over the use of a sample he had in his song “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2.” The judge ruled ‘no liability for copyright infringement.’
The sample in question came from a spoken-word recording made in 1982 titled “Jimmy Smith Rap” by deceased James Oscar Smith.
The ruling of “fair use” is particularly peculiar in the face of song craft.
In terms of more abstract art forms such as documentaries, judges can construe whether use of copyright is transformative.
However, when it comes to song sampling the lines between apt copying become trickier to navigate.
Ain’t nothing but a Pound Cake!
Drake and his team obtained the necessary license for the recording of “Jimmy Smith Rap” but struggled to clear the composition.
Smith’s estate argued that they would never have granted the composition because the late jazz musician “wasn’t a fan of hip-hop.”
His lyrics state: “Jazz is the only real music that’s gonna last. All that other bullshit is here today and gone tomorrow. But jazz was, is and always will be.”
In Drakes song he cuts it down saying, “Only real music’s gonna last. All that other bullshit is here today and gone tomorrow.
Judge Pauley writes that Smith’s song “is an unequivocal statement on the primacy of jazz over all other forms of popular music,” and that Drake’s use, by contrast, “transforms Jimmy Smith’s brazen dismissal of all non-jazz music into a statement that ‘real music,’ with no qualifiers, is ‘the only thing that’s gonna last.”
In a nut shell: Drake transformed the sample into having a totally different meaning and in so doing it was ruled to be okay by Judge Pauley.
The technicalities around sampling are intricate, be sure you have the correct license.